Massachusetts may not want to admit it, but the number of opiate addicted babies born in the Bay State is far more than the number that state officials have previously calculated. It's three times higher than the national average. In fact, this unfortunate statistic seems to be affecting the entire New England area.

Current Count Greatly Exceed Original Figures

Despite state tallies, the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality decided to conduct its own count on drug addicted babies. Upon doing so, the organization found over a thousand more hospital births involving babies born with narcotics in their systems. This drastically dwarfs the 128 babies that Massachusetts had originally included in their tally, The Boston Globe reported. “There has to be some lapse there. We see that many at Boston Medical Center alone,” Dr. Elisha Wachman, a neonatologist at Boston Medical Center told The Globe.  Figures showed that there was an average of 17.5 opiate addicted newborns per 1,000 births in Massachusetts hospital.. The national average for babies born with narcotics in their system is five out of every 1,000 births, The Globe reported. These numbers reflect the overall increase in deaths due to accidental opiate overdose, Science World reported.

Affecting The Entire New England Area

Opiate addicted newborns are an increasing problem throughout the New England area, with Maine seeing a 7 percent increase in births and Vermont having a 10 percent increase in the problem since 2002, Science World reported.  Many other states do not require that the number of drug addicted babies be recorded. “Some states are doing a lot. Some are doing nothing,” US Representative Katherine Clark explained in reference to the current issue, as reported by The Globe.According to Wachman, understanding the problem is the first step towards solving it. “If you don’t know the scope of the problem, how can you begin to address it?,” Wachman told The Globe. According to the Boston publication, this largely unreported number of opiate addicted babies may be partly due to the fear that women who give birth to them are in danger of having their children seized by child protection agencies. Unfortunately without proper care babies born with opiate addiction with experience withdrawal symptoms such as difficulty with breathing and feeding, diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures. These symptoms can last for months and these babies often must be kept in the hospital for an average of 19 days while doctors administer varying amount of morphine. 

What’s Causing This?

Overprescribing by doctors and the large presence of drug dealers in cities has led to the large amount of opiate addiction in Massachusetts. Now we have people openly admitting a heroin habit of 20 bags a day, and I haven't talked to a single person who did not get started by using the pills," Jim Baker, chief of police in Rutland county, Vermont told The Enquirer. Massachusetts has created a new task force to deal with analyzing “the available data to measure the impact of neonatal abstinence syndrome,” Anne Roach, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told The Globe. According to The Enquirer, the price of heroin has reached an all-time low due to the constant supply by the Mexican drug trade. Today one is able to buy a single dose of the drug for around $4.